Roundup 291

Sparks to watch

1. We continue to pray for an end to the war in Ukraine. In the past two weeks, might the war have turned in favor of the Ukrainians? Over a quarter of the Ukrainian population are displaced, with millions living as refugees in Europe.

2. Numerous articles in this issue highlight the continued spread of hunger around the world, as many countries suffer drought and the Ukraine war has disrupted wheat shipments. Pray that churches will find a way to be a blessing in the midst of suffering.

3. We are thankful for the re-opening of borders and the possibility of entering many countries which have been closed for the past two years–but the lockdown in Shanghai reminds us that Covid is still a clear and very present challenge in many places, particularly unreached ones. Pray for local believers & cross-cultural workers to be persistent in seeking to be present and innovative in seeking to be a blessing.

4. Ramadan is under way. There are a number of prayer campaigns being launched around this time, including two strands of 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World (hereand here). Also, Frontiers has “Hidden Treasures of the Muslim World,” a 30 day prayer guide available via daily emails. Finally, Beyond’s own night of prayer is noted above.

North Africa + West Asia = Middle East (570m)

Christian witness after war: a first hand assessment of Armenia, Azerb. CT
… a long look at the role of Christians in the countries and reconciliation
Azerbaijan’s churches explain their evangelism. CT
… “I want to see 96% of Azerbaijanis confess their faith in Christ.”
Iraq: In a ‘dangerous’ land: tourists trickle back. Hurriyet
… camera-toting adventure travelers return after Iraq started granting visas a year ago
Iran lifts Covid-related travel bans for vaccinated+PCR-negative. Al-Monitor
Despite drop in deportations, Turkey still troubles Christians. CT
… last year, no physical attacks, no violations of freedoms, sharp reduction in deportations
But just two weeks ago, expulsions shook Turkey’s tiny Protestant community. Al-Monitor
… “dozens of foreign missionaries forced to leave based on secret intelligence reports”
What can we learn from Istanbul’s 3,000 mosques? NatGeo $
War-torn Yemen holds breath as breakthrough truce begins. Al-Monitor
… Yemen president cedes powers to council as Saudi Arabia pushes to end war. Reuters
… What the new leadership means for Yemen. Al-Monitor

East Africa (520m)

East Africa faces worst hunger crisis in decades. Hiiraan Online
First food aid for 100 days enters Tigray under ‘humanitarian truce.’ Guardian
“There is not enough food. The situation is dire.” Somalia’s drought crisis. Guardian
… 100s of 1000s have left their homes in search of food & water …
Hargeisa, Somaliland stunned after massive inferno destroys central market. Link
… “with it the livelihoods of thousands”
Rising hunger looms on Sudan, with little aid in sight. Reuters

West + Middle Africa (600m)

God at work among the Fulani & Tuareg tribes. MNN (h/t Mission Catalyst).
West Africa faces worst hunger crisis in decade amid aid cuts. HumAngle
“We took our children and ran”: thousands displaced in Senegal. Guardian
… Casamance region fighting spills over into Gambia …

South + Central Asia (2b)

Afghanistan six months on from the Taliban takeover, in photos. Guardian
WFP: 14.8m Afghans to be provided food items in 2022. Khaama Press
… UN chief tells donor community 1mln Afghan children on verge of death. Ariana News
… US announces nearly $204 million in aid for Afghanistan. Khaama Press
The new geopolitics of the Taliban’s Opium economy. FP
Afghan’s [2 million] widows struggle to survive amid humanitarian disaster. RFE
… “95% of people in Afghanistan are hungry. 100% of households headed by women.”

India: Muslim hawkers attacked at Hindu temple fairs. Link
… yet another data point in the ongoing Hindu v Muslim tensions in India.
Pursuing an aggressive Hindutva in Karnataka. The Hindu
… “right-wing fringe groups constantly scout for issues which polarize voters”
Why India’s corporate leaders rarely speak out against Hindu nationalism. Quartz
Poverty-hit mothers sell infants in Andhra Pradesh. The Hindu
India’s educated emigrants are proof of its brain-drain problem. Quartz
6 nuns came to India to start a hospital, ended up changing the country. NYT $
… an op/ed story of the impact of Nazareth Hospital …
Haryana: the story of 3 child brides who dream of studying & working against all odds. BBC
Can India clean up the Ganges river? NatGeo $

Pakistan: PM Khan faces no confidence vote.
To avoid it, he dissolved parliament. The Supreme Court blocked that move.
PM claims vote compromised, says he won’t accept the result.
“Critical blow came last year, when he lost the backing of the military.” (NYT $)

Sri Lanka is in economic crisis. Here’s what it’s like on the ground. CNN
… “There is brewing fury inside Sri Lanka… likely to get worse before it gets better”
Crisis-hit Sri Lanka declared a 36 nationwide lockdown. CNA
… nationwide curfew, troops deployed, state of emergency to quell protests
… declared after night of violence, protesters tried to storm president’s home. CNA
… “defying a curfew imposed by the government… citizens took to the streets…” The Hindu
Sri Lanka opposition rejected proposed unity government. Diplomat
… all 26 cabinet ministers resigned, thousands defied nationwide curfew to protest
Air India scales down flights to Sri Lanka. The Hindu

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

China: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam won’t seek second term. BBC
Marriage registrations hit historic low in China. RADII

China reminds us Covid is still prevalent and affecting other parts of the world.
Shanghai extends lockdown amid “extremely grim” Covid outbreak. Diplomat
… home to the world’s largest shipping port, port volumes down 40%. CNBC
… military, doctors sent to Shanghai to test 26 million residents. NBC
… “Shanghai households are running out of food.” FP
… “patients sick with non-Covid related illnesses kept away from hospitals”. Guardian
… unsung heroes: thousands of delivery workers a lifeline to keep city running. Sixth Tone
… drone footage shows deserted Shanghai as city remains in lockdown. Guardian
Farmers in breadbaskets desert crops to comply with Covid restrictions. Vision Times
“Hong Kong ceased as int’l aviation hub as it curbs inbound flights.” Straits Times

Indian community in China feels pinch as travel ban nears two years. The Hindu
… has strained Indian businesses, some families separated for whole time
Japan to lift Covid entry ban for 106 countries, including USA. Reuters
Taiwan says new Covid cases won’t affect reopening plans. Straits Times
South Korea looks to end social distancing once and for all. Korea Herald
… all pandemic restrictions except indoor mask mandate will be lifted …
Sister ‘enraged’ by Seoul Defense Minister preemptive strike comments. NBC
… some form of retaliation may happen …

A Japanese ‘killing stone,’ said to contain an evil spirit, has split in two. CNN
… ‘an evil fox spirit is on the loose’

Southeast Asia (700m)

Smuggled sketches offer glimpses into harsh Myanmar prison. Reuters
… Myanmar’s political prisoners since coup now number 10,000. Straits Times
… Myanmar coup leader pledges to ‘annihilate’ those opposing his govt. Diplomat
… Blackouts and fuel price surges bite in post-coup Myanmar. Diplomat
… Myanmar’s displaced pushed to nearly 900,000. RFA
… Over 100 religious buildings destroyed by Burmese military (incl 35 chs). ICC
Travelers to Malaysia fuming about paying for antigen test at KL. Straits Times
… “even when they already had a pre-departure PCR test”
… test costs ~500RM, no indication about how long it takes to return results
Indonesia greets Ramadan with mass prayer as Covid-19 curbs ease. CNA
… “Thousands gathered after dusk at Istiqlal mosque…”
As it happened: the Singapore-Malaysia land border reopening. CNA
Singapore announces significant relaxation of Covid-19 protocols. Diplomat

Americas+Europe+Pacific

The growing role of Muslim chaplains in the United States. RNS

Russia’s ‘special military operation’–what a difference a week of PTO makes
Russian missile strike on train station full of evacuees kills 39. Reuters
… many general details re war in article, incl Russia lamenting the tragedy of their losses
Russia’s failure to take down Kyiv was a defeat for the ages (lots of photos). AP
Russia’s economy beginning to crack as economists forecast sharp contractions. CNBC
Putin targets enemies at home as his missiles strike Ukraine. Reuters
US stops Russian bond payments, raising risk of default. Reuters
What an exodus of 11.4 million people looks like. NBC
… over a quarter of Ukraine’s population forced to flee their homes; over 4 million abroad
As Russia retreats from Kyiv, signs of war crimes in Bucha. CSM
Russia suspended from UN Human Rights Council. WaPo $
Tech workers are fleeing Russia, and the impact will last for years. RFE
War in Ukraine exacerbating food crisis in the Horn of Africa. Hiiraan Online
Russian invasion caused short-term food price spike, but… Nature
… could prompt a long-term shift toward sustainability.

New Data

Covid global case data

4/8: 496.3m cases, 6.1m deaths (trackers: Johns HopkinsNYT)
Omicron XE variant (mutation of BA1, BA2) 10% more transmissible. Straits Times
… “no indication variant is causing severe infections like the Delta variant”
How a Zambian morgue is exposing the real Covid toll in Africa. MIT
… How was Africa spared much of the Covid death toll? Turns out, it wasn’t.
… “Most of the dead died at home without seeking treatment…”

Other Data

How Swahili became Africa’s most spoken language. Quartz
Food prices hit record high in March, UN agency says. Reuters

Longer Articles

How to build habits when you’re already truly exhausted. HBR
… start with sleep, nutrition, exercise–and then pick just one new habit at a time.

Muslims face frugal Ramadan as Ukraine war drives up food prices. Hurriyet
… “now struggling to secure even the most basic staples”
Surging food prices take a toll on poor economies. Economist

An emotional comeback: Muslims in 1st Ramadan after Covid restrictions lift. Hiiraan

The Missionary Kids are not alright. CT
… a long read on the experiences and challenges of MKs …

Tourism prospects fly high as skies open up for International travel. The Hindu
… another data point: Incheon Airport readies for returning travelers. Korea Herald

Book Notes

The books I’ve read in 2022. The books I read in 2021.

Tech & Futures

Meet DALL-E, the AI that draws anything at your command. NYT
Europe is building a huge international facial recognition system. Wired
Google Meet looks to match Zoom with end-to-end encryption. VentureBeat
Online criminals stole nearly $7 billion from people in 2021. Digital Trends

Quotable

“We need the witness of Christians of other cultures to correct our culturally conditioned understanding of Scripture.” ~Lesslie Newbigin

“For too many the opposite of fear is not courage, but conformity.” ~Alvin Reid

“You can do with 12 disciples what you cannot do with 12,000 consumers.” ~Alan Hirsch

“‘That church has good suffering. Let’s join.’ Who would ever say that? Paul would.” ~Bradley Bell

“The newsfeed in heaven is very different than the newsfeed on earth.” ~@SamAllberry

“The cost of discipleship is great. The cost of non-discipleship is far greater.” ~David Platt

“The solution to sin is not to impose and even stricter code of behaviour. It is to know God.” ~Philip Yancey

“We are often exponentially more disgusted with the sin in other peoples lives than we are with the sin in our own.” ~Eric Geiger

“It is easier to be orthodox than it is to be loving.” ~Jeff Robinson

“Much of our praying is only our giving God advice.” ~Leonard Ravenhill

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